Coercion in Care

Kerstin Ogard
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Editor’s Note: This story contains graphic descriptions of forced psychiatry. 

I thought I would today write about the subject of coercive measures in psychiatric care. I would like to concentrate on one of these, the forceful injecting of patients, which is often followed by putting patients in isolation.

Patients often refer to this treatment method as “psychiatric rape”. It does resemble the process of being raped, actually. For me, it was the experience of being grabbed by several men, who overpowered me despite my desperate efforts to fight back, and who carried me away to a little room, where they forced me to lie flat on the ground, face downwards. I was screaming and praying for mercy, but they held me down to the ground, and did not speak to me. I could feel them pull down my pants to expose me, and I could feel the needle penetrating my skin. I could feel it twice. I was resisting as hard as I could, and fighting for my life, screaming and crying in overwhelming panic, but I couldn’t escape the situation. The feeling of being overpowered, of being physically violated… I had never been so humiliated, devastated, torn apart, in my whole entire life. No one had ever violated my physical space like that before, and I had never experienced such brutal violence, ever. The shock of it left me in pieces.

After the event the men let go of me, and left me alone. I was lying on the floor crying. They still said nothing. They just closed the door and left me there. I was in there for twelve hours, alone in the torture chamber. A few times some of the men came in, to put down a glass of water. I cried and prayed that they would let me out. They didn’t reply. They didn’t even look me in the eyes.

I hadn’t done anything wrong. I hadn’t been aggressive. I had even taken the medication, those pills that I hated, when ordered to do so. I had just spoken too much. I had spoken too much because I was so scared of this place. I had spoken so much that they could not handle it. So much that it was disturbing them. So much that they could not have their coffeebreak in peace.

It was easier to give me something “relaxing” and put me in the isolation cell. Best for all. Peace and quiet.

In the cell I was alone again, thrown back into the place I’d been twenty-five years earlier.  I was seventeen and had gone into a state of euphoric mania, and then psychosis.  I was taken to the hospital, where I was injected and put into tiebelts.  This physical violence and coercion had caused my mind to disconnect from my body.  I’d had to disconnect. There was no other way I could have endured that torture. Now I was back in that memory, that scary place of disconnection. My mind went into a spin, further and further away. I approached catatonia. I was alone. Alone in a limitless space within my head, with no reference points, and no one to help me. Alone.

To this day I do not know how I found my way back. I think it might’ve had something to do with willpower, as I was NOT going to lose myself. I was NOT going to end up like those people who were living indefinitely in the hospital—those “chronic schizophrenics”, as they say.  It seemed, to me, that they’d gone into a spin, and hadn’t found their way back. I was going to find my way back, back to myself.

I did. But I have to say that afterwards, I was a little pissed off that I had to do it on my own, without any help. That I was locked up in a tiny cell to go through the battle of getting my life and sanity back alone, just so the people, who were meant to be there to help me, could have their coffee break in peace.

I guess they just don’t understand. I guess that’s why, today, I try to reach them and tell them. Maybe this is part of the reason I came back: I have a message, and it is important.

In the aftermath of a rape, many people are able to access help and support, like trauma therapy. After a psychiatric rape, however, when you try to look for help to heal from the emotional wounds that have been inflicted on you, you get told, “It was done to you for your own good. What we did actually helped you. If you cannot see that, it means you are still sick in your head.”

You know what? I am not sick in my head, just because I am of the opinion that psychiatric rape is deeply traumatising, unethical, and a disgrace for modern psychiatry. I am not sick in my head for doing everything I can so that NOBODY will have to go through what I went through. I made it through those hellish hours, alone in isolation, but I know that there are many people who may disconnect from themselves so much that theynever find their way back again, and spend the rest of their lives in a nightmare of disconnection and confusion. My heart cries when I think about this, and I get angry when I think about how incapable modernday psychiatry is in helping these people.

For me, the trauma of what I experienced in that isolation cell ran so deep that it felt impossible for me to deal with it. I tried, time and time again, but every time it overwhelmed me, I ended back in the hospital…and each time, despite pleas and negotiations for a different kind of care, I was re-raped. I was re-raped five times.

I once spoke about it to a friend of mine, saying, “Well, when you get raped that many times, it starts to feel less bad; you even start to get used to it.” In some weird way the repetition helped me to deal with the difficult, inaccessible trauma I had in me. The trauma of catatonia in isolation was so bad that I’d totally repressed it, as a protective mechanism, for twenty-five years, living a normal life, totally oblivious to what was lurking in the depths of my mind. It all surfaced at the happy event of giving birth to my son. After a few days at the maternity ward in the hospital, some difficult memories started to emerge from my subconscious. I started to remember something. I was approaching the spin, the spin I had totally forgotten about.

Maybe it was inevitable. And in retrospect, I see it was good. The repetitive hospitalisations I was thrown into helped me to uncover the deep trauma that I had.

I didn’t get help from psychiatry to heal from my traumas, though. Instead, I found some other very talented people to help me heal from this deep wound. Naturally, I’d lost all faith in psychiatry; with healthy self-protectiveness, I knew I HAD to stay out of its claws, if I was to have a chance to heal.

I found some highly talented healers who specialised in holistic energy healing, and were knowledgeable in mind-body-spirit healing techniques, which have a far deeper understanding of a person’s psyche than anything I found in modern day psychiatry. With this, I started to heal.

I believe that good psychological health, like physical health (naturally, you cannot separate the two), needs very simple things: proper nutrition, proper sleep, a stress-free environment, loving relationships, and a meaning to life. My healers helped me find all of this, and with their support, I was able to find my own inner strength to heal and overcome my wounds.

Today I am beyond my trauma. I am no longer hurt and bitter. I am just happy and grateful that I made it through my ordeals alive. I naturally don’t need any psychiatric medication, and I am in excellent physical and mental health. I have actually become a healer myself! Today, I help other people go through their own processes of healing, and recover their lives. And you know what? They say I am quite good at it.

45 COMMENTS

    • Kerstin: Reflecting on coercion is good for you, some things don’t add up. In lieu of facing some rather petty misdemeanor charges in Montgomery, MD in 1989, I was shuttled first to the psych unit at Bethesda Hospital and then to Springfield Hospital in Sykesville MD. At no time was I given the opportunity for legal counsel. One result, were the later obstacles to employment that were put in my path given that the charges which I was denied the opportunity to answer to in court, nonetheless remained on my record. (While at Springfield, I was straight jacked to a bed because of an escape attempt and shot with Thorazine, and left to deficate and urinate on myself). Unlike a criminal charge in which you are allowed a jury of your peers, and later appeals to an appeals court or the US Supreme Court for an overture of the decision, the verdict of a mental hygiene court has the standing of a holy writ. However, the soul crushing stigma of the psychiatric diagnosis, which thanks to MIA, I have learned has no basis in scientific fact as acknowledged by establishment psychiatrists-chemical imbalances and the ever broadening of psychiatric labels in the DSM-yet despite the this lack of validity, this diagnosis is not subject to review, second opinion, or overturn in the mental hygiene court. And also thanks to the diagnosis, I am disqualified for sitting for the bar exam in the state of WVa.
      This takes as to Congressman Tim Murphy who appeared on CSPAN this morning. Murphy sees the mental health crisis as the lack of services for those in need. He attributes the quarter century decline in life expectancy of the “serious mentally ill” attributed to the lack of access to mental health services. Throughout the presentation, statistics are pulled out of thin air to suggest that tens of millions of Americans are mentally ill, while a quarter to half of prison inmates have a diagnosable mental illness. Murphy also elides “mental illness” to mass shooting while also acknowledging that the mentally ill are subject to higher rates of violence-which if you are to believe the later claim, we are forbidden to arm ourselves unlike other besieged citizens who are compelled to arm themselves against the vast array of hobgoblins who threaten ourselves and our civilization.
      Also thanks to this quackery and junk science, I am saddled with a decreased kidney function, which thanks to all the aforementioned catch 22s, I don’t have the right to become a lawyer and contest this chicanery myself.

      • Chrisreed,

        There are states that allow those defamed by the psychiatric industry to still take the bar exam. I pray you look into which states do allow such, and consider moving to one of them, and taking the bar. Our country really needs those who truly understand today’s psychiatric industry’s crimes against humanity to represent them in a court of law, and change the precedents.

      • I feel for you. My encounter with the wonders of mental healthcare left me a wreck of a person but still in the clutches of an abusive relationship. I have not met a single person in the whole system who made any sense and few who even tried to treat me like a human being. The drugs made me physically sick and mentally unstable, I suffered hospital-related trauma (needle rape, restraints, peeing under myself, being refused water, being drugged with benzos so that I don’t even remember 90% of what happened, being denied any legal advice – I don’t count “talking” to a lawyer in a language I don’t speak and under forced drugging – after leaving the hospital I didn’t even remember I supposedly had a legal hearing). And they dare to call themselves doctors.
        For anyone who is or may happen to travel to Austria: the place was Akutstation Otto Wagner Spital, now moved to Rudolfstiftung under the supervision of Ms Wrobel. Horrific human rights abuses and psychiatry at its worst and many scandals documented in press – still business as usual.

  1. Psychiatry is not the place to get help with trauma. Psychiatric hospitals are not places of “healing”.
    Staying out of the “claws” of psychiatry is the wisest thing a person can do.

    It is becoming clearer and clearer that psychiatrists damage, injure, toxic drug poison, and traumatize many many people who are ill or suffering extreme forms of distress. They have little to offer but toxins and coercive “interventions”.

    Your courage and resilience is inspiring. Your sympathy for those being injured and assaulted is clear and your decision to become a “healer” is one that will benefit those you “touch” with kindness and true compassion.

  2. Kerstin.
    What courage! To write is to revisit, and I imagine that it is not easy to write about these experiences. But how important it is for all of us to hear what it is like to be on your side of particular psychiatric “treatments” that seem to violate basic human rights while accomplishing little, if any, positive result. I am sure that your story will inspire others to come forward and add to the growing testimony of the violations people have suffered at the hands of psychiatry at its most reckless. Thank you and I applaud you!! And I am so glad you refused to lose yourself.

  3. Kirstin:

    Thank you for speaking out about psychiatric coersion and describing how violating and traumatizing it is. My 24 year daughter is a victim of psychiatric rape. She was forcibly medicated, isolated, restrained, and institutionalized many times in the last five years. Now, she is quiet and compliant but her personality is shattered and disassociated. She is a shadow of her former, beautiful soulful and creative self. I want to send her the link to your blog for inspiration but I’m afraid it will trigger her bad memories and she may act out in a way that will cause the staff at her institution to increase her meds or rehospitalize and rape her yet again.

    How should loves ones support someone who has been medically raped in an institution? Should we politely avoid the subject altogether? Should we bring the subject up?

    • I think the word ‘politely avoid the subject’ was a bad choice of words and I’m sorry if this offended anyone One can never forget when one’s child has been harmed. When I avoid the subject with my daughter it is out of sheer terror that the cycle will repeat itself.

    • Hi Rossa,
      As the editor of the personal stories here at MIA, let me respond. Many of our readers have personal experiences with forced psychiatry—experiences that have altered the course of their lives in significant ways. This note is for them, so that they can have a head’s up on what they’re about to read.

      Best,
      Laura

      • Sorry, but I’m with Rossa on this. However I’m not blaming Laura. I see it as a Societal problem, that writers, editors, bloggers and webmasters everywhere have become afraid of being accused of insensitivity if they express any raw Human emotion without some polite disclaimer that it may be “triggering.” Everybody’s been traumatized by life, some much worse than others, but to equate mere words on a page with some actual physical violence is more than a wee bit hysterical and the more readers come to expect that their own personal frailties will be catered to every time they open a book or click on a link, the weaker the art of writing will become until it’s toothless against any REAL evil in this world. And that of course, is what the true criminals and abusers want to happen.

          • It’s not about “who’s the most damaged.” A content warning is the least that we can do for people that are prone to flashbacks, as might be the victims of any kind of bodily violation (i.e. those who have been traumatized “worse than others,” as you said). And the warning does not affect the content of the article.

            Sorry I guessed wrong. I figured that anyone who had flashbacks themselves would probably have more empathy. My mistake. I said nothing about having a misery competition; only you did.

    • John:

      It may be true that the things meted out in the name of ‘treatment’ echoed childhood trauma. Most of the time, childhood trauma is swept under the rug but not always because the parents want it that way. Often, the parents are ready to sit down and have a facilitated dialogue with adult offspring to arrive at some consensus about family dynamics and childhood experiences but 1) the medications make individuals foggy and unable to focus on memories, especially those that are emotionally charged 2) Treatment providers often make assumptions about parents who are critical of the mental health ‘treatment’ their children are receiving and put up visiting barriers because of the fear that parental influence may negatively affect a patient’s compliance and insight process (i.e. brainwashing) . 3) Treatment providers often want to the freedom to experiment on your child with impunity and rarely welcome outside advice or scrutiny.

      In the rare occasion when we were invited to participate in our daughter’s treatment ‘team’ we quickly learned that the rules of etiquette are defined by the highest ranking authority on the team, namely the psychiatrist.

  4. Kerstin,

    Thank you for sharing your terrifying experiences with us…all done in the name of “psychiatric treatment” in hospitals. At this point, I have decided that staying out of a psychiatric hospital is perhaps the most important ‘treatment’ intervention we can provide….so often I have heard those of us in the field say that a person was sent to the hospital “to keep him/her safe”… how tragically ironic…

    So glad that you came through this trauma and are on your journey of healing and living…thanks again for sharing…

  5. Thank you so much for your post. I cried through it all. Stories of people who have recovered from extreme mental distress are so important to us out here trying to help loved ones recover. Have you or would you consider doing a post on the journey of your recovery? -e.g. what recovery looked like at different stages, length of time in different stages , meds’ nonmeds etc? I know everyone’s journey is different but it can provide so much hope for others when you see similar patterns and then you see the healthy whole person at the end.

  6. Kerstin,

    Thank you for sharing your story of forced psychiatric treatment, and I’m sorry it happened to you, “forced psychiatric treatment is torture,” the UN is correct. And my experience with it was equally appalling.

    I had a sleep walking / talking issue, one night ever in my life. My husband was worried, so he called the paramedics. I awoke when the paramedics got there, explained my dream, and agreed to go back to sleep. I was dragged out of my bed in the middle of the night by five paramedics, while the sixth paramedic told the other five that what they were doing was illegal, since I was neither a danger to myself, nor anyone else. They took me to a local hospital that was no longer covered by my new insurance group. I’d switched insurance intentionally, due to prior malpractice by doctors who worked through that hospital, and upon the advise of a subsequent doctor.

    That hospital put me on a hypnotic drug, Etomidate, then shipped me a long distance to a Dr. V R Kuchipudi. Kuchipudi was arrested last year by the FBI for having lots of well insured patients medically unnecessarily shipped to him, “snowing” (drugging until only the whites of the eyes show) patients, and performing unneeded tracheotomies – merely for profit. (Google his name.)

    I’ve picked up the medical records from that hospitalization, I was admitted to Advocate Good Samaritan hospital with a fictitious “chronic airway obstruction” (exactly what an unneeded tracheotomy would “cure”). I don’t remember everything, since I’d been put on the hypnotic drug at St. Joseph Provena, but I do remember being terrified of sexual rape as six giant men strapped me to a bed, and then chemically raped me. On that first day I was forcibly given, in addition to the Etomidate, Benztropine, Haloperidol, Lorazepam, Ziprasidone, Geodon, Tylenol, Mi-Acid, Milk of Magnesia, and Didronel. I was “snowed” with willy nilly similar massive drug cocktails for the next ten days.

    I was finally let out, after two and a half weeks, when my health insurance company finally refused to pay for any more “torture.” Thankfully, I escaped the unneeded tracheotomy.

    My pastor was kind enough to read my medical research regarding all the medical industry crimes committed against me, and explained I’d dealt with the “dirty little secret of the two original educated professions.” Apparently, historically, and still today, one of the main functions of the psychiatric industry is to cover up easily recognized medical mistakes for the incompetent doctors and child abuse for the mainstream religions.

    “Forced psychiatric treatment is torture,” not “appropriate medical care,” as Advocate Good Samaritan hospital is still claiming their crimes against me, and seemingly all Kuchipudi’s patients, are. Shame on the US medical industry, and your GD “dirty little secret.” We all live in the Information Age now, it’s time to end psychiatry.

  7. Kerstin
    thank you for sharing your horrific story. It graphically illustates the atrocities committed by psychiatry and the total contempt in which it holds its patients.

    That one “class” of patients can be treated in this way by just one particular class of the medical profession and it not be seen as criminal assault reflects on the undue influence psychiatrists have on both medical and human rights legislation. “Danger to self and/or others” is pychiatry’s “get out of jail free” card. They don’t have to prove it, and once declared, there is no way for a patient to disprove it before the torture begins

    Your brutalisation and recovery is an inspiration. thank you for sharing your story.

  8. Thanks for this honesty!

    I, too, am a psychiatric torture victim. It was unfortunate as I was also violently abused and neglected throughout my childhood and everything this pseudo-profession did simply reinforced all the messages and ideas that I had already been given from my parents. At many points in my early 20’s my father actually took advantage of several opportunities to have me housed in state asylums. Sadly enough, not a single person in the industry could see how disturbed he was. When I suggested he was abusive to a shrink, the shrink basically called me a liar. Being in chemical restraints did nothing for me but it certainly made it much easier for those who were “helping” and “treating” me. Haldol, Thorazine, toxic amounts of Melaril, and every other thing they could throw at me left me a shadow of what I was meant to be. Being labeled and disregarded created many of the symptoms they used to brand me.
    At 50, I am starting to learn that I can’t be defined by a diagnosis in the DSM which is simply a tool to further oppression of those who react normally to abnormal life situations. I am starting to be impressed with the amount of strength it has taken to live through it all and am looking for a way to truly advocate for those in this horrible, abusive system. One who’s greatest concern is their bottom line and the ease at which they can move people through on a conveyor belt. There needs to be a voice that can cause change. We can all be a part of that and your article just reinforces that!
    I continue to be inspired. Thank you.

  9. Thank you for your honesty…now will the ‘doctors’ and ‘nurses’ and others who have participated in this type of action please come forward and speak up? The system needs to be changed and those we say are the carers need to make those changes too. We can all learn to be more compassionate…can we learn to be human again?

    I know this happens in the mental health system in Newfoundland, it is so hard to tell your story, thanks for doing so. May others come forward and let those outside these mental health ‘hospitals’ know.

  10. Interesting topic Kerstin.

    The one point I would make is that there is a difference between rape and psychiatric rape, that of gratification. The sex offender commits the offense for reasons of personal gratification, whereas those who are active in psychiatrically raping people would, one hopes, not be obtaining any personal gratification from the act. Not to say that there aren’t those who ‘get off’ on the act, but they can always claim that it was being done for the victims own good.

    With no effective line drawn as to when subjecting people to these traumatic experiences, is it any wonder that ‘the coffee is getting cold’ can be seen as a valid justification? Though I’m certain that’s not what is written on official records as to why people are being forcefully drugged and isolated.

    Kind regards
    Boans

    • Hey, boans…the gratification in both cases is the ‘power-over’ dynamic…well, maybe not always in the case of needle rape, but I’m sure they have some satisfaction that their will was accomplished.

      Sexual rape isn’t about sex/gratification, it’s about power.

    • “those who are active in psychiatrically raping people would, one hopes, not be obtaining any personal gratification from the act.”
      I’d be surprised if some of them didn’t get off on it big time… I’ve heard it’s difficult to get people to work in these institutions in the first place so imagine what kind of characters it can attract. Plus sexual rape is not only or not at all about sexual gratification – it’s about power and control over another person and about humiliation and of the victim. That fits the description of psychiatric rape 100%.

      “they can always claim that it was being done for the victims own good.”
      So do the sexual rapists: “She wanted it.”
      Abuse, rape and torture are essentially all the same regardless of the context.

      “I’m certain that’s not what is written on official records as to why people are being forcefully drugged and isolated.”
      No it’s written as “danger to self and others.” Even if the real reasons are “I don’t have time for you, I have other patients” (a literal quote from my torturer).

      The most outrageous is when I hear them complain how violent their patients can get. Victim blaming 101.

      • I too was subject to similar tortures that Kirsten describes. I know many of these people who get into MH care (including “therapy”) do so because of their strong need to have power over another. The commenter who said rape is not about sex is right. Sex is an expression of physical love between humans. Rape is one or more humans having power over the victim. I do think many enjoy their power. After all, how many of us have been subject to such acts, and then either overheard remarks such as, “We’ve done a good job. She’ll never get out now,” and walked away laughing. I think I’ll remember their cackling for a long time.

  11. I’ve just posted this article to the head of the Otto Wagner Spital (nor Rudolfstiftung) in Wien, Austria – Ms Wrobel and other fellow torturers (I refuse to call them doctors). Not that I believe it will do much to their conscience – I’ve tried to talk with her in person and write to others and all I got was excuses that it was for my own good and that they did the right thing and so on. Plus a threat that they will sue me for defamation should I continue to name them for what they are – human rights abusers and people who don’t know the effects of drugs they’re prescribing. It’s really hard to understand how people can look at someone who they claim to want to help who tells them how much harm they caused and act as if they didn’t hear anything.
    See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil…
    Forced psychiatry is rape and is torture.

  12. Kirsten, thanks so much for writing this wonderful article. From one writer to another, I applaud those of us who have the courage to avoid sugar-coating and describe an experience accurately as it happened to us. To avoid the truth via euphemisms or to water down of the story is doing us a disservice. Not only that, to avoid the meat of the story portrays these settings as idyllic and reinforces societal belief that we “deserve treatment” because of our labels. As for whether to provide an editorial “warning,” this is entirely an editorial choice that writers and readers need to respect regardless of how they may see such warning. I am grateful that MIA exists, and I’m quite happy to have discovered it a little over a year ago. I learned that I wasn’t alone. That was incredible!